Hip Strength for Balance

Hip Strength for Balance and General Hip Comfort

If you have any hip discomfort or knee for that matter, strengthening your gluteus medius (muscles on the sides of your thighs) will help.   I have include 2 today.  I promise if you do them once a day for 30 days you will feel a difference in your balance and your hip overall feeling. 

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1)        Standing hip hikes

Purpose:  To strengthen hip stabilizers

Position:  Standing on one leg, with other leg light or lifted. Use the wall or a pole to help with balance.

Movement Description:  With a neutral pelvis and your core support, shift weight into the right leg.  Align the middle of your knee with your second toe (activate your external rotators).    Lift up and off the supporting right leg and rest left foot on right foot.  Then slump (hip check) your right hip out to the side and use the side of the right hip to pull the hip back in.  Repeat 15x.  Repeat on other side.

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What to watch for:

-  Remember to keep abdominals engaged

-  Try to square hips and middle of knee cap aligned with second toe.

-  Keep neck and shoulder relaxed

-  Do not allow back to arch, use abdominals to support the neutral curves of the spine

-  Lengthen the back half of your skull up to the ceiling, letting the chin drop slightly


2.   Side leg lift

Purpose:  To strengthen your leg stabilizing muscles


Starting position:  Lying on your side with your abdominal drawn in, shoulders are stacked and hips are stacked. Reach top leg backward.


Description of Movement:  Connect your abdominal in and up to support this exercise while keeping your spine in neutral.  Lift the top leg up to hip height while keeping the top waistline long.  Slowly lower the top leg to the bottom.

What to watch for:

ü  Keep belly drawing in towards your spine.

ü  Watch that the lifting leg does not move forward as you lift it up.  Keep reaching the top leg back opening the hip in the front.

ü  Feel this movement at the side of the upper thigh on the top leg.

ü  Keep bottom waistline slightly lifted and top hip rolled forward slightly

Osteoporosis Awareness Month

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It is Osteoporosis Awareness Month, a silent disease that affects many of us, especially as we age.   Pilates is great for bone density with many of our clients reporting improvements in their bone density after beginning a program with us.    

However, with Winter coming,  fall prevention becomes essential for those with osteoporosis/osteopenia and for others.    Each Wednesday we will give an exercises to help prevent falls this winter.  As well as with Free reformer class for bone density, Wednesday November 22nd at 12pm and a FREE yoga class for bone density Saturday November 18th 11:30 

Falls remain the leading cause of hip fractures among older adults, causing 63 to 83 per cent of hip and non-vertebral fractures and about 45 per cent of vertebral fractures. 

Most effective exercises to help reduce the risk of falls and osteoporotic fracture -  aerobic physical activity COMBINED with balance and strength training.   Pilates is great for balance and strength training.  It also helps you with aerobic activity as it optimizes your joint and muscle recruitment.

Changes in posture, combined with changes in bone strength, can increase the risk of spine fracture. Poor alignment can be improved with exercises that target muscles important for posture.

Professor Giangregorio from the University of Waterloo. “There is clear evidence that performing challenging balance exercises can reduce falls, especially if performed most days of the week. We propose a shift away from aerobic-only exercise regimes to those that emphasize strength training and balance training in addition to aerobic training, to achieve the greatest health benefits.” 

Visit our blog each Friday for a new set of exercises.  

November 10th  - Gluteus Medius and One Leg Balance strength

November  17th -  How Ankle movement affects your Balance and what to do about it.

November 24th -  The Lateral System: A Grouping of Muscles that help your balance

We look forward to helping increase your strength and balance this November.    Check out our Functional Fitness program of classes which caters to those with osteopenia or osteoporosis and avoids flexion through the spine while strengthening your hips, legs and core.   


Love Your Feet

We take our feet for granted.  We stand and move on our feet, day in and day out but we give our feet very little love, except for the occasional pedicure.

Don’t worry, I do too. Or I did until I got an injury.  Now I am all about feet.

Why are our feet important?  With every step we take, our feet transfer the force of hitting the ground up.   That force should transfer up and out the top of your head.    When it doesn’t the force gets trapped and likely you feel it in your knees, hips, SI Joint or low back.   How you contact the ground with your feet also impacts what muscles in your hips get stronger and which may weaken.

Can’t picture it?  Try it out.  Stand in one place and stomp your foot down.  Where do you feel it? 

Because you are standing, let us investigate this further.   Start by stepping in place and feel where your feet contact the ground. Do you feel more weight in the outside or inside of your feet? Front or back of your feet? Is it different from your right foot to your left?  

Now try being intentional with where you put your weight.  Focus on weighting into where the big toes meet your second toe (this is called the 1st ray).  Keep stepping and notice if anything feels different in your knees, hips, SI joint or low back.  Do this for a couple of minutes.

Now switch your focus.  Think about weighting into the center of your heel.  Keep stepping and notice where you feel this.

The grand finale, focus on weighting into your first ray (where the big toe meets the second toe) and the center of your heel.  Notice where you feel this?

Now it is ok if you didn’t feel a difference, you will over time.  Repeat this once a day for 7 days and you will feel a difference in your knees, hips, SI Joint and Low back.   

Join me for ‘Love your feet’ a wholebody workshop to help support the natural functions of your feet.  Your body will thank you for it.  Saturday October 28th 1-3pm $45 + hst (you get a franklin ball with workshop)


No limits

A few days ago, Erinn, an instructor at the studio and long time client at the studio showed me a magazine where she was featured.   It was touching showcase of the struggles that Erinn has faced in the last 20 years with her battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis.   

As a pilates instructor, having worked with Erinn for over 10 years, I have seen first hand her weekly physical struggles.   We work privately to focus on strengthening around her 2 joint replacements while adapting to the changing joint inflammation and pain.  

Take a look at the video @ https://mobile.twitter.com/SupportSinai/status/864523625805860870/video/1

or the article


As a teacher trainer for BODY HARMONIC' I tell my students that having physical challenges can be used to your advantage.  When a teacher experiences challenges in their own body, they can relate to clients challenges with more empathy and understanding.   

This makes Erinn a great teacher.   Book a session with her today or take a class.  Erinn works Monday am at 9:00, Tuesday am 9:30 Mat class and 10:30 Core Reformer class and Tuesdays 6:30pm at 35 Harvard

Tips for Pain Free Gardening

From a Pilates Teacher

Join us Saturday May 13th for a 2 hour workshop on stretches and releases to make gardening and lawn work pain free this season.  1:30 - 3:30 for $45

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and we don’t have to wear our winter jackets to go outside, it must be spring.   Along with the great weather, Spring brings yard work.  Some people love it, some bare it, but which every category you fall into, you have likely experienced soreness after spring yardwork.

Here are some help tips to decrease your discomfort.

1.      Take Breaks

a.      Every 15 minutes take a break.  Move your spine side to side, twisting right and left and do a few pelvic tilts.

2.      Move from your hip joints. 

a.      As much as possible hinge from your hips keeping your spine as straight (neutral) as possible.   Use your core to hold your spine still and you move.  If you need to get down lower to the ground, bend your knees not your spine.

3.      Use your Core and Breath

a.      Exhale and pull your hip bones together to activate your deep abdominal muscles which will help support your spine, shoulders, and neck

4.      Alternate sides

a.      Ever notice how you have a side the just feels easier to use when you lift, plant, weed?  When we work on one side, we create imbalances with our muscles.  We want balance so switch up sides.  This goes for legs and arms.

Like these simple tips?  Join us for a Whole Body Workshop on Pain free Gardening  1:30 - 3:30 Saturday March 13th $45  Register in advance as space is limited.

Is there Anyone Who Can't Benefit from Pilates?

New Beginner Class in A south End location - 35 Harvard Rd at Motion Plus Physiotherapy clinic

Monday May 8th at 9am & Tuesday May 9th at 6:30pm

$138 + hst for 6 weeks


Though Pilates has been around since the early twentieth century, it has only gained widespread recognition in the last few decades. Now, millions of people across Canada, the United States and the world practice Pilates every day to improve their health and fitness.  

With its odd-looking equipment, Pilates can be intimidating for someone who’s unfamiliar with the exercises. Perhaps you wonder what all the fuss is about, but harbor doubts as to whether this type of workout can truly benefit you.

In reality, there are very few people who can’t benefit from a Pilates workout—in fact, it can benefit nearly everyone.

Amateur and Professional Athletes

More amateur and professional athletes are looking to non-traditional workouts to improve their performance on the field or the court. Low-impact and mat-based workouts such as yoga and Pilates are becoming an essential part of many athletes’ training programs to both prevent and rehabilitate injuries. Since Pilates focuses on physical strength and flexibility, it is the perfect choice for athletes who need to strengthen and protect their muscles, joints and ligaments.



Pilates classes, similar to many group fitness classes, are often dominated by women. However, men can also benefit from those same workouts. Since Pilates focuses on core strength and flexibility, it is a great complement to a strength training program. Plus, Pilates isolates and works many under-used muscle groups, which will support an overall fitness program. Doing a regular Pilates workout, even just once per week, can increase an individual’s range of motion, which also helps to prevent many types of injuries.



While millions of women have already discovered the benefits of a Pilates workout, there are many more who have never tried it. Among other things, Pilates helps students to develop their core and pelvic floor strength, both of which are especially critical for women as they age and if they’re considering trying to get pregnant. Because of its focus on improving core strength, Pilates also helps practitioners to develop better posture.

Chronic Pain Sufferers

People who suffer from chronic pain, especially back pain, can discover significant benefits from participating in Pilates workouts. The focus Pilates has on core strength, conditioning and neutral spinal alignment can have incredible benefits for anyone suffering from back pain.

Another benefit of Pilates is improved joint flexibility, so it is also a great option for people suffering from various types of joint pain or weakness, including those with arthritis.

People Who are Overweight

If you are overweight or obese, you might wonder if your size will make it difficult to participate in a Pilates workout. The truth is exactly the opposite. Since Pilates is a low-impact workout, and most of the movements are done sitting, kneeling or lying, it’s a much easier workout for people who are overweight than other methods with higher impact movements. Additionally, most Pilates movements can be modified to match the fitness level of the person doing the exercise, so making adjustments to your workout to fit your body size and abilities is easy.


Taking a serious fall is a major concern for many older adults. With a focus on improving core strength and balance, Pilates is a great workout option for seniors looking to improve or maintain their health. Since Pilates focuses on quality, rather than quantity, of movement and is not high-impact, it can cater perfectly to the needs of older people and aid in improving coordination and stability. Pilates is also an excellent way to recover after surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement, and integrates well with physical therapy regimens.

Trying Pilates

 As you can see, Pilates is a workout that can benefit anyone, no matter your fitness level, age or motivations for working out. If you’re ready to try a class for yourself, there are several ways you can see first-hand how it works for you.

Free Consults

At Pilates in Guelph we offer a FREE consult, were you can try Pilates, see the studio and talk to an instructor about the best way to achieve your goals. 

Private Lesson

A private lesson with an instructor is another great way to try out Pilates. Since you’ll be working one-on-one with your instructor, you don’t have to worry about other students in the class and can match the workout to your needs. Though this is the costliest way to test out a fitness program, it will also give the most in-depth insight into whether or not Pilates is the right choice for you.

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, or what health challenges you face, Pilates can offer you many benefits, including a stronger core, increased flexibility and better balance. If you haven’t yet tried it, give Pilates a chance to see just how much it can do for you.


If you want to try Pilates, but you’re not quite ready to invest in a studio membership, you can try exploring fitness channels on YouTube. You can access hundreds of thousands of Pilates workouts available from fun, qualified instructors at no cost.

YouTube is an especially great resource if you have limited time or travel frequently. The only downside is sometimes YouTube access can be blocked, depending on your internet connection. If you are having trouble accessing your favorite YouTube Pilates channel, try using a virtual private network to avoid the content filters and access your workout.


About the Author: Cassie is a fitness instructor who prides herself on helping her clients improve their fitness, no matter what obstacles are in their way. She believes everyone deserves to live a happy, healthy life and loves to share that enthusiasm with her clients, both online and in the gym.


We have a 6 week series of classes Monday May 8th at 9am and Tuesday May 9th at 6:30 at 45 Harvard Rd (Motion Plus Physiotherapy).   Contact us to reserve your space. 

Relieve those Gardening Aches and Pains with Pilates

It is that time again.... back to gardening.  By Vera Needham

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Bend, dig, shovel, repeat.   I love spring and it feels great to be  outside and back in the garden but because it can be physically demanding with lots of lifting and repetitive movement, this type of work has a high incident of injuries.  One of the group of ladies I train are volunteer gardeners.  One of the common complaints this time of year is back pain.  In order to completely enjoy all spring has to offer it is very helpful to be pro-active. 

Our goal as pilates instructors is often to use the same type of exercise to prevent injuries from occurring.   Proper bending techniques are essential if you hope for a pain free year.   Many gardeners bend forward using spinal movement.  This means that they are bending their back to lean forward to perform their gardening tasks.  When I see this type of movement I can’t help but to think of a coat hanger bending back and forth.  Eventually it snaps! To prevent a painful back it is important to keep our spine in neutral position. This means if you stood with a stick behind your back; your head, shoulders and bottom would press against the stick. This is important in all aspects of gardening from planting to harvesting.

One of the most common mistake gardeners make is using their backs to bend.  When we lean forward, the hip is where movement should occur.  The hips hinge us forward.  If we round our spine, we lose at least a quarter of our spinal strength. Remember; hinge forward from the hips.

Keep the spine neutral, and let the legs do the lifting. Push with the legs, DO NOT pull with the back.


Bridging: We start the program lying on our backs with the knees bent Next, slide the feet as close to the hands as possible. Then slide the hands towards the feet which helps alleviate shoulder tension. The most important part of this exercise is to squeeze your bottom, anchor your  feet by pressing into the first toe and outside of the heel on both feet,  then lift your hips. Hold for a five count.  Remember to breathe and Repeat 5x.

Double leg lift: Roll to your side. Connect the balls of the feet and the heels together. Inhale to lengthen, exhale to lift, being aware of relaxing the neck and shoulders as you hold for a five count. As you are holding this exercise, think of making yourself as long as possible from the top of the head to the tip of the toes and keeping the inner thighs connected like you are holding a paper between them. This exercise stabilizes the sides of our abdominal wall, which is the area between the bottom rib and the top of our hip bone. This is a vulnerable area in most gardeners since we often lift with one arm when we are carrying heavy bags of soil or fertilizer.

Clams: Imagine you have an invisible wall behind your back. Bend your knees so that your head, bottom, and heels are against the invisible wall. Next, imagine your heels are glued together. Really concentrate on squeezing your bottom as you open your knees. Repeat 10x.

Mini Head lift: Next, roll onto your belly then turn your palms down like you are slapping the floor. Start by sliding your hands towards your feet to get the tension out of the neck and shoulders. Inhale to lengthen the spine as you unweight your head from the floor. Keep the back of the neck long as you lift, making sure you are looking at the floor the whole time and not the wall in front of you. When we garden everything is in front and in the center. That type of movement encourages bad posture. If you have a hard time holding your head against the stick when it is behind your back, this exercise is imperative for you and should be repeated every day. Repeat 5x.

Quadruped Arm/Leg reach:  Next, Push up onto your hands and knees. Hands are directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Now imagine someone is going give you a push. This will help you wake up or engage your core.

Extend one leg. Think about placing energy in your bottom as you lift the extended leg. Stay as stable as possible as you unweight the opposite hand and extend it overhead. Try to create as much length as you can from the tip of your fingers to the end of your toes. Hold for a count of five. Repeat, alternating sides, two times each side.

Roll to the other side and repeat

Double Leg Lift 5x.

Repeat Clams on the other side 5x.

This program only takes ten minutes and should be performed at least three times per week.   Now you can get back to the garden…..instead of the garden getting your back! 

You can join Vera on Monday mornings at the studio.  9:15 Core Dynamics (level 3) and 10:30 Core Reformer (level 1.5).  Also check out her fabulous piece of equipment the https://www.facebook.com/tubeefit/ great for wrist mobility while changing balance. 


join us Saturday May 13th at 1:30-3:30pm for our workshop on relieving Gardening aches and pains  $45 + hst 

 Call 519-829-2928 or email info@pilatesinguelph.com to register

2nd Week of our Challenge...

With only 9 days passed, these ladies have done a great job!

With only 9 days passed, these ladies have done a great job!

and they are going strong! Good work ladies.   Take a picture doing Pilates and post it 2x this week to win a FREE T-SHIRT.  Tag #2017Aprilchallenge @pilatesinguelph on facebook, twitter or Instagram.  We want to see you do Pilates. 

There is another video to do at home.  Add this one to the warm up posted April 1st.   

Warm Up Feel Good Tune Up for our April 2017 Challengers

This is the sequence to do BEFORE you do any of the other sequences.  This prepares you to be successful for the other videos.   Challenge yourself to find more 'Core' during the leg lifts (with neck or butt involvement). Listen to the cues of using the 'Core' to move your arms and legs.  Feel how connected you can become in a very short time.   

The video's audio cut out at the beginning.   Do some pelvic tilts, breathing and ab activation then join me with the arm arcs.

Our 2017 April Challenge Begins

Welcome to all of our 2017 April Challenge participants.   We are excited to cheer you on as you move to feel your best in the next 30 days.   Please remember to book your 4 reformer classes and 1 private session to get the full benefit of this challenge.

I will be posted a mini workout on our blog each week.   You can do this mini workout when you cannot make it to the studio.  Just take a picture or video, post it on instagram or facebook with the hastag #2017Aprilchallenge @pilatesinguelph.  

Keep us updated on your progress.... we are here to help make April 2017 an awesome month.  :) 

March Instructor Challenge


We are at the end of our instructor challenge for 2017.  We found it hard to fit a Pilates workout  in (and we were not allowed to use the classes we taught) with sickness, holidays and just general life.  But my gosh my body feels amazing.   Here are some images of the triumphs of our Pilates in Guelph team.  

The winner of the Pilates in Guelph challenge is Ivana!  Her prize is $200 of Pilates clothing.

Why Soccer Stars From the UK are Turning to the Mat

Why Soccer Stars From the UK are Turning to the Mat

Soccer is widely recognized as one of the toughest sports on the body. The combination of aerobic and anaerobic movements works the joints and muscles hard, and has often led to career ending injuries. As players try to prolong their careers many are embracing the benefits of mat-based exercises such as Pilates and yoga.

Pilates 4 Sport informs that most soccer injuries are sustained around the knee due to twisting actions and are a result of overuse or playing with slight injuries without recovery. Pilates is one of the most effective exercises to strengthen and protect vulnerable joints such as the knee and is used as a prevention exercise as well as a recovery exercise by many clubs. It also works the core and is a great supplement exercise to the usual soccer training sessions that focus on stamina and agility. 

According to the health site Pilates Near You, professional soccer players such as Real Madrid and Wales star Gareth Bale has invested heavily into improving his performance through Pilates. The site noticed that after adding Pilates to his workout Gareth Bale’s “physique began to improve and a look at him now shows a player in peak physical condition.” The game of soccer has changed considerably in the past decades and the required fitness level of a player is now a lot higher than ever before. This is not only due to the speed of the game but also the scheduling. A player such as Gareth Bale will be expected to play all year round for both their domestic and national teams. With less downtime soccer players are more prone to injury.

Another Welsh soccer player who has embraced and in many ways led the way to the mat is Ryan Giggs. Welshman Giggs is seen as the golden example that mat-based workouts like Pilates and yoga combined with a soccer training programme can prolong a career. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Giggs explained how yoga helped him get over constant injuries. “You can feel it working and you can feel the benefits straight away. My body feels so much better having done the yoga. I still get the odd hamstring strain, which you are going to get playing football, but it wasn’t about curing the problem, but making it less frequent. I wish I had done it from the start of my career.”

While Giggs may have wished to start earlier, it clearly did him a lot of good and he retired at the age of 40 while still playing top tier soccer for Manchester United. Whether Bale can replicate that success has been asked many times by digital publications such as football website Betfair in their article Gareth Bale or Ryan Giggs – who is the best Welsh talent? The site notes that while Bale has the talent to become a more prolific goalscorer he will find it hard to match the longevity and success of Giggs. Whoever comes out on top, both players have greatly benefited from embracing the mat and incorporating Pilates and yoga into their training. They have also been catalysts to bring Pilates and yoga across to professional sports teams with both exercises now regularly used by Premier League teams to help combat injuries and increase the chances of prolonging playing careers.

Day 3 March Matness

There was a comment on one of my posts of alternate classical exercises saying "just do the original version".  So why am I showing variations? Well Pilates is more than the mat exercises and many people cannot and will never be able to do the mat work exercises (and that is OK). Pilates is still GREAT for those people and I want to post exercises that improve function not just look pretty.  Also and this is a big ALSO Pilates is a whole system and classical matwork is only part of the higher end of what Pilates is.  The other apparatus help people do Matwork. It helps your movement mechanics which will ultimately make matwork achievable ( if you want).  That that is what makes Pilates great.... not just the matwork.

  I love Pilates and everything it has to offer.  

Day 3 is Rollover.  

Now my body loves this exercises because it opens my upper back which tends to be tight and flat.   It is not for everyone.  It can feel yucky on necks and shoulders and should be put in when there is the space and strength to rollover.   I love it on the arc barrel so I am showing you on the arc barrel today.  On the arc barrel, I can use the feedback of the barrell to help articulate my spine over the barrel to keep width through my upper back. 


March Matness

#2 exercises this Month is the Roll up.

Ivana is doing it on the cadillac, this version helps you make a connection through your shoulder girdle to your waistlines.  Really great for finding the articulations through your spine.  

Another option would be a half roll back.  Do this for finding the curve of your lumbopelvis region to allow for the roll up (on the mat or caddy).


Welcome March Matness

Every year in March, you can see people posting their march matness exercises.  Traditionally it is the traditional matwork series from Joseph Pilates.   We decided to do something a little different...  the instructors at Pilates in Guelph are going to show you variations of the 'classical' exercises but we are also going a step further and challenging ourselves to do 31 pilates sessions in the 31 days of March.    

Game on ladies!  Follow us and cheer on your instructor to get to 31 classes in 31 days.   

Our first exercise is courtesy of Ivana.  Our lovely resident athletic therapist and Pilates teacher extraordinaire.   The original series starts with 100s and we give it to you standing.    We put lots of variations.  

The basic exercise is standing tall on one leg with the other leg lifted, while pumping your arms with a staccato breath (in for 5 pumps and out for 5 pumps).    Add the curl forward for extra challenge but make sure you are not falling forward.  Lift your spine to curl forward.  

Pilates for Everyone

Today I am joined with Erinn, who has been a longtime client and now coworker at Pilates in Guelph.  Erinn has a hip and elbow replacement and we have worked over the years to strengthen her body during her challenges with Rheumatoid Arthritis.    

This exercise is Knee Stretch - Flat back.  For Erinn, we need to make modification so her knees do not pass the 90 degree angle as well Erinn needs to be on her elbows to strengthen through her shoulders as she is unable to straighten her left elbow.    

I ask Erinn to connect her hamstrings to movement her thigh bones in her hip sockets.  Can you see how this helps her stabilize her torso so she is differentiating at the hip joint?  Also I would have her anchor her forearms into the bar from her armpit/waistlines to have strong solid shoulder connection.   She does this exercise very well.  

Both myself and Erinn have Rheumatoid Arthritis and for both of us, movement has always been the key to coping with this disease.   It does mean that exercises need to be modified on a daily basis to adjust for how the body is feeling that day.   

Erinn is passionate about an event. The Power of Movement which raises money for Autoimmune Disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.   For more information or to donate please visit their site Power of Movement Website


What we love about Pilates

Feeling strong!

I will admit. I am never going to be model skinny. I am never going to be tall.  And I will never eat like I would need to to have a 6 pack - I just like my sweets and wine too much.   However, I am strong and capable.  The other day, on the city bus, a woman couldn't get her walker through the aisle. I pick up her walker, lifted it over my head (as it was the only way it would get through and walked it to her) and carried it to her.  I did this all in front of my daughter.   I want my daughter to grow up knowing her mommy is strong and capable.   That is what Pilates does for me and what  I love about Pilates.